4/23/2018 8:55:00 AM

At Steven K. Okamoto, DDS, your health and safety are extremely important to us. Dental x-rays are a common investigative technique that we considered to be safe. Moreover, the digital dental x-rays we use are even safer. They have very low doses of radiation, producing just a fraction of what you are exposed to in other imaging procedures.

If you’re worried about whether you need dental x-rays, it’s good to dig a little deeper into what dental x-rays involve.  

X-Rays and Radiation Exposure

There is very little cause for concern when x-rays are performed properly and with adequate safety precautions. A regular exam that includes four bitewing x-rays has about the same amount of radiation you would experience if you traveled on a plane for two hours.

It is important to remember that the effects of radiation are cumulative over your lifetime. For instance, if you travel a lot, then waiting two to three years between dental x-rays is a good idea. Even though the exposure to radiation is low during an x-ray, you still want to keep your overall lifestyle as free from radiation as you can.

Minimizing Your Risk

The most effective way to minimize radiation exposure from dental x-rays is only to have them done when necessary. Fortunately, it is up to you and your healthcare provider how often you have an x-ray done. There are certain factors to consider when deciding to have an x-ray done.

  • Oral health history
  • Current symptoms
  • Age and dental development stage
  • Personal risk factors

A careful evaluation by your dentist can reduce the need for x-rays. If you are concerned about how much exposure you have experienced, then ask your dentist to perform a visual examination before ordering any x-rays. Also, if you have your x-rays from a previous dentist, make sure to get them transferred to Dr. Okamoto to eliminate the need to repeat the procedure.

Contact Us for a Comprehensive Evaluation

At Okamoto, DDS, we do not take risks with products or treatments. Our dentist only provides services that preserve your overall well-being. Feel free to call us and discuss the need for dental x-rays to understand better how we can help improve your oral health.

4/23/2018 8:39:00 AM

Desensitizing medications are used to seal the microscopic pores of unprotected root surfaces if a patient is experiencing more than a mild sensitivity to temperature extremes or sweets. Teeth whitening can also leave patients with sensitivity. Desensitizing medicines are applied by dentists and seal the dentin layer of the tooth that causes sensitivity.

First, your dentist will rule out inflamed tooth pulp, tooth decay, infection, or gum recession as a cause of sensitivity. Then, the desensitizing medication is applied from a small bottle and applied with a fine brush.

Desensitizing medications are also frequently used during restorative dental procedures like fillings or crowns. This application is done before the restoration is placed on the tooth to help prevent tooth sensitivity later. The procedure is usually painless because the patient’s tooth is typically numb. Sometimes, several applications of desensitizing medication are necessary to provide complete relief of symptoms.

Types of Desensitizing Medications

Desensitizing is a fast and easy procedure to have and it can bring permanent relief from some forms of dental pain. The process is completely non-invasive and can be done during restorative dental procedures to prevent the problem from occurring at all. For the most effective results, the use of desensitizing medications needs the affected tooth to be dry and isolated from the surrounding soft tissues.

Professional desensitizing agents must be applied under the supervision of a dentist. There are a variety of medications that can be used in the process, including:

  • Gluma® Desensitizer 
  • Potassium Nitrate
  • Fluoride Gel or Varnish

Fluoride also slows the progress of tooth decay by increasing the rate of enamel mineralization, a process where essential minerals that support a hardened, healthy enamel are resupplied to the tooth.

When the demineralization of teeth progresses without regular remineralization, the pores within the tooth enamel become bigger and more sensitive. They then allow more acids and bacteria to enter, which can result in decay. Fluoride helps stop this decay cycle by mineralization of the enamel. After the completion of your examination, Dr. Okamoto may suggest using a desensitizing toothpaste to maintain a healthy environment in your mouth.

Treatment for a Pain-Free Smile

Many people experience tooth sensitivity and there is no need to suffer with the problem. At Steven K. Okamoto DDS, Inc we can help you. Call our Torrance office today if you think desensitizing products may be something you need.

4/23/2018 8:19:00 AM

Dr. Paulo Malo successfully treated the first patient with the All-on-4® treatment in 1998, and since then hundreds of thousands of patients have experienced the look and feel of natural teeth again. The All-on-4 treatment concept provides a permanent titanium bridge for the entire upper and lower set of teeth and can often be done in one visit. The procedure is best suited for patients in dentures or those with significant tooth loss or decay. It is also an option for those whose bone loss in the jaw area prevents them from getting traditional dental implants.

All-on-4 consists of establishing a fully customized bridge based on as few as four titanium implants. The standard method includes four dental implants and an acrylic denture that is built around a titanium frame instead of a full arch of implants. These implants are longer and placed at precise angles to integrate into areas of reduced bone density.

The procedure takes advantage of existing bone, even if it is a small amount. The implant allows patient to avoid having bone grafts and provides a more secure bridge that will last for many years.

Restoring Healthy Smiles

The All-on-4 treatments only needs four precisely placed implants on the top of your mouth, and four on the bottom. Because the implant is made of titanium, they fuse to living bone and function as part of it. Eventually, the dental implant becomes part of the jawbone and serves as a strong foundation for your new teeth.

The strengthening of the bone stops any shrinking and helps to maintain a more youthful facial structure and better oral health. This advanced implant treatment restores normal dental function so you can eat your favorite foods and smile with confidence.

Experienced All-On-4 Care in Torrance

With All-on-4 those who are missing all or most of their natural teeth have the best chance of full mouth restoration. Dr. Steven Okamoto and Dr. Michelle Okamoto have helped transform smiles for years and are passionate about helping others maintain healthy teeth and gums in Torrance. We are pleased to offer our patients the benefits of All-on-4 implants from one of the most reliable names in implant dentistry, Nobel Biocare®. Contact us or come in for a comprehensive evaluation and we will help you determine if the All-on-4 treatment is right for you.

4/23/2018 8:09:00 AM

When you’re missing one or more teeth, there are many options for making your smile complete again. Whether you choose removable prosthetics or permanent replacement teeth, Dr. Okamoto ensures you are fully informed about which appliances are available to meet your needs. 

If you’re visiting our office for restorative treatment, consider the following benefits for the teeth replacement options available to you:

Removable Prosthetics

These appliances are not cemented in place and do not require surgical procedures. Removable teeth are usually a cost-effective treatment that is minimally invasive and popular among patients looking for the quickest solution available.

  • Partials – Patients with sporadic tooth loss or a single missing tooth can choose partial dentures. Replacement teeth are attached to a plastic or metal framework, which hooks around existing teeth. Partials typically should be removed before meals but they can effectively create the appearance of a full smile.
  • Full Dentures – When all teeth in one or both arches are gone, full dentures are the go-to treatment for many patients. Dentures are made of acrylic and tooth-colored materials to re-create a natural-looking smile. These dentures can be worn all day to aid in clear speech and improved biting and chewing.

Note: As these restorations are not permanent, and often rely on surrounding structures for support, patients may experience changes to facial aesthetic caused by bone loss. Removable appliances can also loosen through the day and require adjustment to ensure the best fit.

Fixed Teeth

If you’re looking for the most reliable forms of tooth replacement, prosthetics that are cemented or interact directly with bone are the longest-lasting treatments available. Your choice of bridges or implants will depend on budget and preferences, as well as how many teeth are missing.

  • Bridges – Among traditional dental restorations, bridges are some of the most durable teeth replacements.  A bridge typically consists of a fake tooth with two dental crowns on either side. The crowns are placed over pre-treated teeth surrounding the gap caused by loss or extraction. Bridges are then bonded in place and can be expected to last for decades.
  • Implant-Supported Restorations – When a permanent implant supports your dental restoration, you benefit from the best aesthetics, health, and comfort. Implant posts prevent jaw bone loss and naturally integrate with surrounding tissue, so your new tooth looks and feels real. Implants can last an entire lifetime with the proper care.

If you’re missing an entire arch of teeth, a dental bridge cannot restore your smile, unless it is supported by implant posts. Dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement but do require a longer healing period and initial surgical treatment to add posts.

Questions about Tooth Replacement? Ask our Dental Specialist!

As a prosthodontist, Dr. Steven Okamoto is skilled at helping patients find the teeth replacement option that meets their expectations and needs. With help from our general and cosmetic dentist, Dr. Michelle Okamoto, we ensure your procedure improves your appearance and is as comfortable as possible. Call or visit our office for details about choices for replacing teeth!

2/16/2018 12:00:00 PM

Dental implants are highly advertised dental treatments, which we also discuss at length on our website. But if you’re unfamiliar with this process, it pays to know the basics. To unpack the essential elements of this procedure, Dr. Okamoto has provided the following blog post.

In short, a dental implant is a complete replacement for a lost tooth – and that includes a substitute for the roots of a teeth. While crowns, bridges, and dentures (the prosthetics for replacing the visible parts of teeth) are important to overall treatment, a dental implant usually refers to the components listed below:

Post – This is a small appliance that looks like a screw and serves as the base of the implant. Dr. Okamoto places the post into the jaw bone so it can integrate with tissue and become a strong foundation for other pieces of the restoration. Implant posts are typically made of titanium, but advancements in implant technology have provided zirconia bases as well.

Abutment – This connecting piece serves as the coupling between the post and the visible prosthetic. The abutment can be made from metal or tooth-colored materials, depending on needs and preferences.

Established companies, such as Nobel or Zimmer, supply the post and abutment, while the implant restorations Dr. Okamoto adds to the abutment are usually created at an outside dental lab.
As much as a dental implant can replicate an entire natural tooth, implant posts can also be supports or anchors for larger restorations. One implant post, abutment, and crown can equal one whole tooth, but four dental implant posts, specialized attachments, and a bridge or denture can equal a complete arch of your smile.

Dental implants are flexible prosthetics that support dental health, function, and appearance. Their power comes from the post, which creates a replacement for missing tooth roots and stimulates bone over time. The definition of an implant can be complicated, but it may be best served by stating that an implant is a replacement tooth root and permanent base for aesthetic tooth replacement.

Ask Dr. Okamoto about Dental Implants!

If you’re looking for more information about implant procedures, we encourage you to read through our website or contact our office to speak to a member of our team. As a tooth replacement specialist, Dr. Okamoto has all the information necessary to help you make confident decisions about your treatment plan.

12/15/2017 12:00:00 PM

Dr. Steven Okamoto and Dr. Michelle Okamoto use modern technologies to enhance and restore patients’ smiles. What many patients don’t know, is the simple solution to a healthier smile may be hiding somewhere unexpected – in their pantry and medicine cabinet.

When our patients seek ways to improve their oral health, one of the simplest adjustments they can make is altering their diet to improve nutrition and ingest more vitamins and minerals.


Teeth and jaw bone are primarily comprised of calcium, which makes this supplement critical to your oral health. Foods high in calcium include:
  • Dairy
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Sardines
  • Almonds
  • Oysters
If your diet alone does not provide enough calcium, it’s recommended that you add supplements to keep teeth strong.

Vitamin A
More commonly recommended for improving eyesight, Vitamin A also aids in oral health by promoting salivary production and preserving healthy mucous that eliminates harmful bacteria. Foods containing large amounts of vitamin A include:
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Peppers
  • Egg yolks
  • Fish
Vitamin B
Vitamin B works to fight off inflammation and soft tissue sores. In the event that you’re suffering from either, increasing your Vitamin B intake can help expedite the healing process. Foods high in vitamin B include:
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Red meat
  • Dairy
  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Legumes
Vitamin D
Vitamin D improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Without an adequate amount of Vitamin D, you run the risk of teeth under-developing or experiencing decay. Vitamin D can be found in the following foods:
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Cod Liver Oil
Potassium benefits the body by inhibiting substances that promote the breakdown of bones, as well as aiding in blood clotting. Patients concerned with obtaining enough potassium should consider eating the following foods:
  • Legumes
  • Squash
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Bananas
  • Avocados

Ask Okamoto DDS about Diet and Nutrition Tips for Better Health!

Our whole team is committed to the preservation of your oral health and can provide plenty of tips to get your smile back on track, beyond simple brushing and flossing tips. Want to learn more methods of improving the health of your smile? We welcome you to read some of our other articles, or contact our office today to schedule your New Patient Appointment.

10/24/2017 12:00:00 PM

While teeth bleaching products have been widely available for years, some patients are still hesitant to use them and are unsure if frequent whitening or even one-time use of the products will do anything to damage their smiles.

Effects of Whitening Gel on Dental Enamel

Bleaching gel is formulated to affect the surface or enamel of teeth and does not reach the pulp inside the tooth. Peroxide has not been shown to negatively affect teeth in the long term. According to studies, patients who whiten their teeth frequently are, not more likely to experience damage to their teeth than patients who do not.

Patients who are concerned about using whitening gel can choose to whiten their teeth less frequently or choose oral hygiene aids to improve tooth mineralization and strength. These hygiene products, usually rinses or toothpastes, typically contain fluoride. Diet can also affect the strength of teeth. Foods that are high in protein or whole grains can help make teeth more durable over time.

Peroxide whitening gel does not have an impact on soft tissue either. While gums are protected during professional whitening application, any whitening agent that makes contact with soft tissues will not have a negative effect on the appearance of gums or overall oral health.

Desensitizing Products

While thermal sensitivity doesn’t make teeth whitening unsafe or harmful, it can become problematic for cosmetic dentistry patients. Patients who whiten their teeth, either at a dental office or at home, may experience quick moments of discomfort after the application of whitening products. This issue will dissipate quickly after your whitening regimen has finished. However, if tooth sensitivity is of concern for you, there are over the counter products that minimize this effect.

Before a whitening program, patients can choose a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Most retailers carry special strips, which resemble typical whitening strips and are formulated to prevent thermal sensitivity. Depending on whether you choose to whiten your teeth at a dental office or at home, these strips can be applied by our dentists or by patients themselves.

Safe, Effective Teeth Whitening - Ask our Cosmetic Dentists

At Okamoto, DDS, the health and longevity of your smile is highly important to our entire team. We do not take risks with products or treatments and only provide services that will meet your expectations and preserve your health. For stunning whitening results with a safe dental bleaching program, contact our office today.

10/4/2017 12:00:00 PM

Having a strong and healthy jaw is important for overall dental wellness and even the aesthetics of your smile. To reinforce this structure, bone grafts are often performed after a tooth has been extracted or before dental implants are placed.

While developing your treatment plan, Dr. Okamoto determines if a bone graft will improve your dental health. If so, you have more than one choice available: synthetic, lab-created grafts or organic bone.

Minimally Invasive Care

You always have the option to have bone taken from areas that include the chin or thigh. As your own organic tissue, these grafts have a high likelihood of successfully bonding with surrounding tissue. However, taking that bone from elsewhere on your body creates a secondary treatment site.
Synthetic bone grafts are provided by a lab and can be placed directly at the site of the lost tooth or depleted bone volume. There is no need to create a secondary treatment area.

Safe and Sterile Grafting Procedures

While every measure is taken to ensure donor tissue added to your smile is safe and sterile, regardless of the material used, synthetic bone grafts are created in a sterile lab environment  and not taken from a donor. Donor bone must be processed to make it safe for grafting, but synthetic bone does not increase risk for health complications.

Your synthetic bone graft is created with the use of many different and biocompatible materials, including protein, growth factors, and white dental composite. This process minimizes the risk of rejection and irritation for patients who require bone augmentation before additional restorative dentistry can be performed.

Important Considerations

There are certainly many benefits to having a bone graft, no matter which material you choose – and every approach has its own unique benefits and considerations to take into account before you decide on a treatment method. Synthetic tissue creates a bridge or supportive framework that encourages bone to grow around and over it, in a manner similar to how a trellis directs plants to grow and spread in a desired location. On the other hand, organic bone expands from the area of placement on its own, growing naturally.

Both options create better support for teeth and implants, but one grafting material supports bone development while the other creates it.

If you have questions about dental grafting surgeries, don’t hesitate to call our office! We look forward to explaining all of the ways our team can help you enjoy a healthier smile.

9/26/2017 12:00:00 PM

Many patients who suspect they or a loved one have sleep apnea go straight to their primary care physician. While analysis and collaboration with your medical care provider are important, you can also seek diagnosis and treatment from our dentist.

In the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, our dental office is helpful in providing care that is convenient and effective.

Easy, At-Home Diagnosis

In traditional treatment processes, patients visit a specialist to have their sleeping patterns monitored. While this provides necessary sleep data, it disrupts your normal routine and requires that you spend an evening trying to fall asleep in a clinical testing facility.

Our dental office provides technology that allows you to skip the overnight stay at an outside sleep study office and rest in your own bed. This equipment collects the same necessary data as an outside sleep study, helping to determine factors that include oxygen levels in blood. Once this information has been gathered, it is sent to a sleep specialist for analysis to determine causes of sleep apnea and severity of the condition.

Comfortable Appliances

As dental professionals, Drs. Steven and Michelle Okamoto are skilled in producing oral appliances which treat conditions that manifest in the mouth or damage teeth and soft tissue. In cases of obstructive sleep apnea, these appliances create an easy flow of air and unobstructed breathing. In comparison with a CPAP machine that pushes air into and through a patient’s throat, an oral appliance makes it easier for you to breathe on your own by subtly shifting jaw position.

Our dentists have a deep understanding of the effect jaw position and bite balance play into multiple dental problems, such as teeth grinding and uneven wear and tear. Our dentists also understand what causes soft tissue collapse at the back of the throat which closes airways and contributes to sleep apnea symptoms.

For obstructive sleep apnea patients, impressions are taken of their bite alignment and sent to a laboratory for the fabrication of a customized dental appliance. We then provide education and information that allows patients to achieve the best results with this treatment method.

Ask our Dentists about Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are experiencing extreme daytime fatigue and troubling focusing, you could be affected by lack of quality sleep caused by breathing issues. For diagnosis, contact Drs. Okamoto today to learn more about how our team can help.

8/2/2017 12:00:00 PM

Immediate load implants have provided patients who are missing teeth options for achieving the smiles they want in less time. The concept of teeth-in-a-day takes traditional dental implant surgery and hits the proverbial fast forward button; the patient can immediately benefit from improved aesthetics with concurrent placement of their prosthetics.

If you’re interested in teeth-in-a-day as an efficient way to gain a complete and functional smile, consider how this treatment compares to the alternatives:

Same-Day Smiles: The Basics and Benefits

For patients with a lack of teeth, failing teeth, or minimal healthy teeth, seeking an immediate solution to the problem may be of the utmost importance. Many patients find having dental implants placed the same day as their denture helps alleviate anxiety about the procedure and their appearances.

While traditional implant methods are recommended for many patients, these treatments require time for healing and the use of temporaries before your final prosthetic can be placed. However, teeth-in-a-day offers benefits that include:

• Minimal dental visits
• Same-day implants and restorations look as natural as traditional implant restorations
• You can leave the office with a completely new smile after just one visit

Alternatives: Traditional Implant Methods

Immediate implants and dentures work well for many, but other patients, especially those with complex oral health problems, may be better candidates to have implants installed in the traditional method.  Teeth-in-a-day is ideal for replacing teeth the front of the smile or when several teeth are missing in a row.  Some other factors that affect your ability to receive immediate load implants are:

• Poor bone density in the jaw, requiring a graft as pre-treatment
• Insufficient gum health
• Stress placed on teeth from bruxism or TMD

Preference is as important of a consideration as health when determining if teeth-in-a-day is the right choice for you.  If you are prepared to follow to instructions about caring for your new teeth in the time directly following treatment, you will enjoy best results from care.

Ask Dr. Okamoto about Same-Day Implant Treatment!

Dental implants are a great option for those in search of a healthier, more comfortable smile. With advancements in technology, our prosthodontist helps patients walk out of the office with renewed confidence and dental health after just one appointment.  Call Dr. Okamoto today for your consultation.

7/25/2017 12:00:00 PM

Dental patients with missing teeth may not know the options available for filling in the gaps in their smiles.  While dentures and conventional dental implants are a popular treatment choice, you have an alternative with mini dental implants, also known as MDIs or Narrow Body Implants.  These prosthetics provide benefits for smile improvement and make treatment flexible for qualifying patients.

What are Mini Implants?

Mini implants are made from the same titanium alloy material as conventional implants but are smaller and narrower in size.  While conventional implants are around 3 mm in diameter, MDIs are about half that and just as sturdy.  The solid, one-piece design can prevent the need for a bone graft in some cases, and the procedure is less invasive than conventional implants.  Typically, the process for placing mini implants takes one to two hours under a local anesthetic and has a full recovery time of only a few days.

How Can You Tell if You are a Good Candidate for Mini Implants?

Mini implants aren’t right for everyone, but if you are a patient in need of multiple implants, have degenerative bone that won’t allow for traditional implants or need to secure dentures in place, minis may be the fit for you. Some patients are better suited for the conventional implants but benefit from having a mini implant installed as a temporary fix.  The most significant benefit of minis over conventional implants is the cost; MDIs are often a fraction of the price of traditional implants.

When Conventional Implants Might be a Better Fit

Conventional implants and dentures either can be a better alternative to mini implants depending on your circumstances.  Full-sized implants have a larger surface area, making them more stable, but do require certain bone volume levels for integration.  Conventional implants also consist of separate pieces that are added in phases.  If you suffer from teeth grinding, mini implants are generally not recommended, as the grinding can wear down the implants prematurely.

In the end, one implant is not definitively better than another. Making a decision on what will work for you involves examining your unique health concerns and factors that contribute to implant success.

Dr. Okamoto and his staff want to make sure you know and are comfortable with all the options available to you when it comes to restoration with dental implants.  If you have questions about dental implants, call the helpful staff at Drs. Steven and Michelle Okamoto’s office today!

7/24/2017 12:00:00 PM

Hard tissue grafts are used to repair depleted bone that no longer supports teeth and jaw function. The procedure involves taking tissue from either the patient themselves or a donor and applying it in areas where bone has receded, particularly after tooth loss or complications of osteoporosis. Dr. Okamoto treats bone depletion through comprehensive care that encourages healthy, functional, and beautiful smiles. Grafting is the predominant way bone recession is treated.

Now that you understand bone grafting basics, here’s what else you should about this procedure:

Bone grafts are safe: Tissue used for the graft can be your own, made in a lab, or taken from a donor. All of these are compatible with your natural jaw bone and integrate well. Grafting materials must be certified before they are provided to a patient, so all of them are safe avenues for creating a more supportive oral structure.

Bone grafts restore aesthetic: Bone depletion creates a prematurely aged and sunken appearance. When lost teeth or other health issues affect bone volume, the only way to restore a natural aesthetic is through grafting procedures. Augmenting bone structure restores a full and healthy appearance. Dr. Okamoto provides patient with the completely healthy and natural-looking smiles they deserve; bone graft procedures can give patients the chance at a beautiful smile again.

Bone grafts support better function and treatment results: As bone loss progresses, your teeth may begin to shift out of place, making everyday function uncomfortable and difficult. Loose and unstable teeth are at a higher risk for loss, which compounds bone health problems.  A bone graft bolsters jaw strength and provides security for natural teeth. If you are interested in dental implants to replace lost teeth, a bone graft creates the ideal environment to support lasting treatment success.

Can Bone be Compromised again After a Graft?

Maintaining oral health is dependent on seeking the most beneficial treatment to support bone health and development, as well as replacement for missing teeth. The addition of a bone graft actually encourages the development of new bone in the area, improving more than the region where the graft was placed. If you choose implants to replace lost teeth, you can enjoy the benefits of healthy, dense bone volume with minimized risks for additional bone loss.

Contact us for Comprehensive Treatment for Bone Loss, Missing Teeth, and Dental Implants

Dr. Okamoto and his team are prepared to treat bone health problems and advanced tooth loss through grafting procedures. Contact our office today for more information on whether you can benefit from a bone graft.

Providing Advanced Dentistry in Torrance for More Than 30 Years

Steven K. Okamoto, DDS
Michelle Okamoto, DDS

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